I believe that we can all live happy, effective and deliberate lives - and that our organizations can help.
Attentiveness. Resiliency. Situational awareness. Mental agility. Emotional intelligence. None of these attributes just "happen"; rather, they must be intentionally cultivated.
Recently, I got an inside look into the efforts of several top organizations attempting to inject these attributes into their workplace culture and beyond.
Hitting the road
Zappos invited me to speak to a panel of entrepreneurs involved with their DTP Downtown “Revitalization” Project. Essentially, they’ve purchased a section of downtown Las Vegas, surveyed the community to identify the missing elements of the city's culture, and are rebuilding it piece by piece while relocating their 1600 employees into the center of it all. Zappos is already world-renowned for their culture, but as an organizational development & education consultant, what struck me most was their commitment to developing the life skills of their employees: life coaching, the ability to set one's own hours, the freedom to work on projects outside of core hours that are meaningful and opportunities to give back to the community. I was excited to meet Zappos' CEO Tony Hsieh and to witness firsthand the thinking that shapes their company culture.
I then flew to San Francisco to attend the third annual Wisdom2.0 conference. This conference brings together some of the world's top tech companies to explore how to balance our increasingly connected and digital lives.
Google was the head sponsor of the conference – with attendees from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. Their message: behold the value of people development. Building a human-centric organization - one that creates a healthy environment to grow, connect and find inspiration - is critical to the success and longevity of your organization, the products you create and your impact on the community you serve. Google TechTalks is a great example of a program aimed squarely at fulfilling this commitment, along with the “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY) mindfulness and emotional intelligence training program, one of their most popular on campus.
To wrap up my trip, I had the opportunity to visit the Googleplex. I had an inside look at the inner workings of their people development initiatives with their VP of People Development, Rich Fernandez, and founder of their SIY program, Chade Meng-Tan. To sum up the experience in one word: Inspiring!
Bringing it home
A big inspiration for my work comes from my involvement as People Development Lead at Myplanet. Several years ago, we began development of the “Myplanet Mind” training program. Now in its 3rd year, Myplanet Mind provides all Myplaneteers with access to personal emotional intelligence assessment and coaching, team emotional and social intelligence training, and weekly active stretch/meditation. We have also established an organization-wide 12-week training program aimed at reducing stress and promoting attentiveness, awareness and the value of authentic connections for everyone in the Myplanet community.
I often reflect about the challenges we all face day to day, and the responsibility of an organization to help their employees cultivate essential life skills. To quote one of my teachers Jon Kabat-Zinn, “You can’t change the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”
As we learn more about the science of the mind and what it means to be human, we realize how important it is to consider the role of the mind at work. The more human, wise and compassionate our organizations can become, the better-quipped we will be to handle the twists and turns that life inevitably throws at us.
And isn't that worth investing in?
Michael Apollo is Myplanet's People Development Lead. He serves as Faculty for the University of Toronto, teaching Mindfulness-based Emotional Intelligence. Michael is also a Director of Applied Mind Science at InteraXon (where he works with brain-computer interface technology).